ANALYSIS: White Men Boost Obama; McCain Wins Amid Doubts Over Conservative Cred

Sen. Barack Obama rode support from white men to strong victories in the Virginia and Maryland Democratic primaries, while Sen. John McCain prevailed in both states but still faced Republican doubts, particularly in Virginia, about his conservative credentials.

Underscoring a continued challenge for McCain, 49 percent of Virginia GOP voters and 41 percent in Maryland described him as "not conservative enough." That rose to about six in 10 conservatives in both states.

He found salve in the fact that three-quarters said they'd be satisfied with him as the party's nominee -- though fewer, 46 percent in Virginia and 44 percent in Maryland, said they'd be very satisfied, and this again was lower among conservatives.

On the Democratic side, Obama won white men in Maryland and Virginia alike. He won 84 and 90 percent of blacks, the latter among his highest margins in that group; they accounted for 37 percent of Maryland voters and 30 percent in Virginia. And Obama narrowly won the few Hispanic voters in Virginia; he'd won Hispanics just once before, in Connecticut.

Obama's overall vote margins in the two states were his widest, outside his home state of Illinois, in any primary where fewer than four in 10 voters were African-Americans. He won women in both states, something he's done outside states with larger black turnout only in Delaware, Iowa and his home state of Illinois. Indeed, in Virginia, Clinton won white women by a scant 6-point margin; she won them by 18 points in Maryland.

As elsewhere the "change" theme was powerful for Obama: Fifty-six in Maryland and 57 percent in Virginia said the top attribute they were seeking in a candidate was the one who can best "bring about needed change." They favored him by a vast 83-16 percent in Virginia and 80-18 percent in Maryland.

Again in both states, Obama also won voters most concerned either with empathy -- "cares about people like me" -- or electability in November. He won "electability" voters by 15 points in Maryland and by a remarkable 43 points in Virginia, his best margin to date among voters focused on this attribute.

Among other notable results, Obama won self-identified independents in Maryland's closed primary by 62-27 percent; and split seniors, usually a strong Clinton group, 47-45 percent. In Virginia Obama won seniors by 10 points, 55-45 percent. It's the first time he finished ahead among seniors in any primary this year.

No exit poll was conduced in the Washington, D.C., primaries. Here's a breakdown of results in Virginia and Maryland:

VA REP -- Thirty-one percent of Republican voters in Virginia described themselves as very conservative, up sharply from 18 percent in the 2000 primary. They boosted Huckabee: He won very conservatives by a broad 65-25 percent, while McCain prevailed among somewhat conservative voters by 13 points and won moderates by almost 3-1.

Just under half of Virginia GOP voters, 46 percent, identified themselves as evangelicals, and Huckabee won them by 2-1. McCain, however, won non-evangelicals -- 54 percent of voters -- by an even wider margin, 63-25 percent.

Veterans accounted for 28 percent of voters; McCain won them by 51-39 percent. And McCain won by 2-1 in northern Virginia, while the contest was closer in the south and east of the state, and Huckabee was strong in the conservative Shenandoah and southwest region.

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